Local Christmas Trees: A Gift to the Earth

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This holiday, give a gift to the earth by buying a live Christmas tree. Many would think that buying a fake tree would be the more environmentally friendly option, because you are not actually chopping down a tree. However, most fake trees are made of plastics, metals and chemicals that take energy to produce and most of the time they are not sourced in Illinois or even the United States. Live Christmas trees sequester carbon while growing, are usually replaced three to one, and farming of this crop doesn’t need the highest quality land and soil. They can also be recycled by the city and chipped to make mulch that breaks down fast as opposed, to the fake Christmas tree that will spend your lifetime in the dump.

Buying a fresh live Christmas tree has been trending down for decades, according to a local business owner who used sell seven times the number of trees sold now. These local businesses are sourcing their trees from Michigan, Wisconsin and South Carolina, where these trees grow the best. For instance, the popular Fraser fir is sourced from South Carolina. These garden centers are especially accommodating to their clients by re-cutting the stump, which will in turn take up more water; placing it on the stand; delivering it to your home; and setting it up.

Containerized Christmas trees further reduce your carbon footprint. One must plan for this option, because the hole must be dug and the soil kept warm in the garage well before the big day so the tree can be planted and begin its climate-contributing role of sequestering carbon.

Start a family tradition and go to a local Christmas tree farm to cut your own. Everything is still growing and can’t get any fresher or local. These trees are growing between seven and 14 years before they are harvested and replaced by young saplings. These young saplings sequester more carbon than their older counterparts because they are actively growing up and thriving. One grower said Scotch and white pine are the fastest growers and the firs grow a bit slower. He says they all have growing issues, so one is no better than the other as far as fertilizer, soil and maintenance.

Buy trees that are tried and true, rather than fancy trees that may not be sourced from Illinois or surrounding states. Colorado blue spruce, Douglas fir, eastern white pine, Norway spruce, Scotch pine and white spruce are the types of trees that grow best in Illinois.